Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian responded to the discovery of the remains of more than 200 Indigenous children at the former site of a Kamloops residential school Friday, May 28, 2021. (Splatsin photo)

Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian responded to the discovery of the remains of more than 200 Indigenous children at the former site of a Kamloops residential school Friday, May 28, 2021. (Splatsin photo)

Survivor support needed in wake of ‘unimaginable’ mass burial discovery: Splatsin chief

“It really is about you — you survived that horror, and it’s important that you get what you need,” Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian said

“If there are stories to be told, let people talk.”

That was part of Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian’s message after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at the former site of a Kamloops residential school.

The discovery is a stark reminder that the residential school system in Canada was in place as recently as 1996, and that while many of its survivors are living in First Nations across the country, many others did not survive.

On Thursday the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said new technology allowed for the discovery of the burial site, and forensic experts are continuing work to identify the individual children.

That work could eventually lead to the repatriation of those children to their communities and families, but right now, Kukpi7 Christian says it’s time to offer support to those in the community still reeling from the “unimaginable and horrific” news.

“For those of you who went to the residential school and are survivors, I want to really ask you to think about the support you may need,” he said in a video shared with the public Friday.

“Because it really is about you — you survived that horror, and it’s important that you get what you need. And I know that many people (have) parents, grandparents, aunties or uncles or siblings that attended this school, or what they called a school.”

Some may want words of encouragement; others may want to tell their own story.

“Let them let it out, because a lot of people still won’t talk about the horrors that took place here. A lot of people were not believed that there were actually burials at this place,” Christian said. “This confirms what our people have always said.”

The Splatsin chief said news of the discovery “knocked me off my stride for a while,” and he’s still reeling. He said it’s hard to explain the anger chiefs are feeling right now.

“(We) want to hold the governments accountable, but also the church, for what happened to the little ones.”

Christian has been working with other chiefs to organize a ceremony within the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc first, and then to all First Nations.

The band is also working around the challenge of coming together in mourning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to get our people together physically, to mourn the death of these 215 babies,” Christian said.

“We’re in the midst of COVID and it makes it even more difficult because we’re trying to find out, how do we do this? And I’m sure that a lot of communities haven’t had our second vaccination yet … so we’re trying to accelerate that process.”

READ MORE: Remains of 215 children found at former residential school in Kamloops

READ MORE: Penticton Indian Band ‘shocked and sickened’ by discovery at Kamloops Residential School


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

First Nationsresidential schools

Just Posted

Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduate Nina Bumstead. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Grad ceremony proceeds, with a twist

Red carpet outside works out well for Chemainus Secondary’s Class of 2021

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

Chemainus street signs now contain Hul’qumi’num translations, like this one at the corner of Willow and Legion Streets. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Street signs go up in the Hul’qumi’num language

Chemainus intersections feature direct translations

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Most Read